HEIW mulls reintegration of refugee pharmacists into practice in Wales


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In its effort to address workforce challenges, Health Education and Improvement Wales has outlined initiatives aimed at facilitating the return of pharmacy professionals with refugee status to active practice within Wales.

This possibility has been stated in HEIW’s Strategic Pharmacy Workforce Plan, which commits to investigating the practicality and significance of establishing a registration pathway for pharmacy professionals displaced due to refugee status.

According to HEIW, it is currently investigating the viability and importance of revitalising ‘return to practice’ packages, formulating pharmacy apprenticeships, initiating international recruitment initiatives, and establishing a registration pathway in Wales for displaced pharmacists and pharmacy technicians holding refugee status.

“In the past two years, we have arrived at a point where maintaining the desired access to the volume and quality of pharmacy services for our population has proven unattainable,” said HEIW. “In Wales, instances of diminished pharmacy services are evident in both hospital and community settings. The trend of abrupt, temporary closures in community pharmacies continues.”

The HEIW report revealed data indicating that the number of impromptu, temporary pharmacy closures in Wales exceeded 2,000 for the first time during 2022/2023. “In total, there were 2,106 closures in 2022/2023, marking an increase from 1,782 closures in 2021/2022,” it said.

“The strategic workforce plan will serve as a catalyst for instigating profound transformation and holistic enhancements in the way we cultivate, appreciate, and bolster our pharmacy workforce,” said Alex Howells, Chief Executive of HEIW. “This acknowledges their escalating clinical leadership responsibilities in providing care to individuals who rely on medications across diverse contexts.”

“The plan represents an opportunity to empower pharmacy professionals with the necessary skills and competence to embrace their roles as professional leaders in the realm of medication usage throughout the broader health and social care workforce,” Howells added.

In the same vein, NHSE’s 2022 Community Pharmacy Workforce Survey revealed a 16 per cent surge in pharmacist vacancy rates across England, highlighting a rising reliance on part-time locum pharmacists who, on average, have shorter work hours.

NHSE data emphasises a shift in the operational dynamics of community pharmacy, with an enhanced integration of locum pharmacists into the staffing framework.


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